Carbon Song Cycle  / by Christina McPhee and Pamela Z

multimedia performance : video installation and chamber ensemble
45 minutes

Carbon Song Cycle, a work for chamber ensemble and expanded cinema by composer/performer Pamela Zand media artist Christina McPhee is inspired by ongoing changes and upheavals in the earth's ecosystem, and by the carbon cycle—the process through which carbon is exchanged between all terrestrial life forms and domains. It is scored for a chamber ensemble of voice & electronics, viola, cello, bassoon, and percussion and immersive, multi-screen video projections.

To compose the music, Pamela knitted together melodic motifs inspired by scientific data around the carbon cycle and texts referencing environmental balance and imbalance–playing on the idea of the natural exchange of elements by passing sonic material between the players, and exploring audio elements related to the imagery in Christina’s video material. The video is built from footage that Christina shot at petroleum fields, natural gas locations, and geothermal sites around back-country California along with carbon-inspired drawings and images of processes involving intense heat and chemical transformations.

The piece premiered at the Berkeley Art Museum / Pacific Film Archive in April 2013. where the artists explored working site-specifically – mapping video to the architecture of the immense gallery. For future performances, the multi-channel video projections will be mapped and reconfigured for screens and architectural surfaces of the venues in question.

The ensemble for the premiere was Pamela Z (music composition and voice & electronics), Christina McPhee (video composition, installation, and performance), Dana Jessen (bassoon), Charith Premawardhana (viola), Theresa Wong (cello and voice), and Suki O’Kane (percussion).

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